The Indo-Iranians go west!

I’ve long been curious about the Indo-Iranians who “went west”. I’ve tried to run some qpAdmin with Iranians, and the results are erratic. I think the main issue is the reference populations are quite different from the “simple” situation in India. But, I think it is plausible to say that Sintashta ancestry is lower in much of Iran than among Afghan and Pakistani Iranians, and Indo-Aryans in Northwest South Asia and upper-caste groups in South Asia. The frequencies of Indo-Iranian (Sintashta) ancestry seem closer to North Indian peasant groups, at best.

This is quite perplexing.

Additionally, looking closely at the data in regards to the well known split between “European” and “Asian” R1a1a

– In Turkey and the Levant, there is a mix between the two. I think this is indicative of Balkan migration during the Ottoman period. A small number of Bedouin, for example, have “European” R1a1a, while the single Druze has the “Asian” lineage.

– In Iran and the Caucasus, it’s mostly the “Asian” variant, except for cases where it looks like there is Slavic admixture (then it’s “European”).

– In Iran, the frequency of R1a1a seems highest in Kerman in their samples. It is, of course, the “Asian” variant.

Haber et al. found “steppe” ancestry arrived in the Levant after 1800 BC. We know from Mitanni that Indo-Iranians were part of the mediation of this.

I’ve put the “Asian” mutations and their frequencies below the fold, but look in the supplements of The phylogenetic and geographic structure of Y-chromosome haplogroup R1a.

 N totalR1a %Z93Z95Z2125M434 M780M582M560
PopulationN%N%N%N%N%N%N%
Near/Middle East                
Turkey West1636.1310.6110.6110.6100.0000.0000.0000.00
Turkey Central1514.6410.6610.6610.6600.0021.3200.0000.00
Turkey East2089.1310.4810.4894.3300.0000.0000.0000.00
Turkey Cappadocia935.3800.0011.0822.1500.0000.0000.0000.00
Kurds (Turkey)306.6700.0000.0000.0000.0000.0026.6700.00
Druze3071.6341.3000.0000.0000.0000.0000.0000.00
Bedouins3414.7100.0000.0000.0000.0000.0000.0000.00
Egypt1471.3600.0000.0010.6800.0000.0000.0000.00
Qatar726.9411.3900.0022.7800.0022.7800.0000.00
United Arab Emirates1647.9300.0010.6174.2700.0042.4400.0000.00
Oman1219.9221.6500.0021.6532.4821.6500.0000.00
Iran (set 1)879.2011.1500.0066.9000.0011.1500.0000.00
Iran (set 2)15016.0085.3321.3374.6700.0021.3321.3300.00
Iran (set 3)1888.5121.0600.0073.7200.0052.6610.5300.00
Iran Northeast(#)12718.9053.9475.5100.0000.0064.7200.0000.00
Iran South(#)40817.1671.7292.21163.9200.00153.6800.0000.00
Iran North(#)40312.6661.49153.72102.4800.0030.7430.7400.00
Azeris (Iran)29713.8051.6831.01113.7000.0051.6862.0210.34
Kermans (Iran)10523.8198.5710.9598.5700.0010.9532.8600.00
Assyrians881.1400.0000.0011.1400.0000.0000.0000.00
South Asia                
Pakistan North8516.4700.0000.001011.7600.0022.3500.0022.35
Pakistan South9132.9722.2000.0033.3077.691819.7800.0000.00
India North9819.3911.0211.0211.0200.001616.3300.0000.00
India East1244.0310.8132.4200.0000.0010.8100.0000.00
India Northeast6827.9411.4700.0000.0000.001826.4700.0000.00
India Northwest12724.4100.0010.7997.0900.002116.5400.0000.00
India Central 3613.8900.0000.00513.8900.0000.0000.0000.00
India South975.1500.0022.0600.0000.0022.0600.0000.00
Mixed India4012.5000.0012.5000.0000.00410.0000.0000.00
Nepal Tharu 1708.2400.0000.0000.0000.00148.2400.0000.00
Nepal Hindu2568.0000.0014.0000.0000.001664.0000.0000.00
India/Hindu/New Delhi4934.6900.0012.04510.2000.001122.4500.0000.00
India/Tribal/Andhra Pradesh2927.5900.0013.4526.9000.00517.2400.0000.00
Central Asia/Southern Siberia                
Afghanistan Hazara769.2100.0000.0056.5800.0011.3200.0011.32
Afghanistan Pashtun8453.5711.1900.003541.6700.0089.5200.0000.00
Afghanistan Tajiks 14025.0032.1400.001611.4300.001510.7100.0000.00
Afghanistan Turkmens7313.7011.3700.00810.9600.0011.3700.0000.00
Afghanistan Uzbeks 12525.6000.0032.401612.8000.00108.0000.0000.00
Turkmens, Tajiks387.8912.6312.6312.6300.0000.0000.0000.00
Kazakhs (Kazakhstan)1331.5000.0000.0021.5000.0000.0000.0000.00
Kyrgyzstan23246.55125.1700.009540.9500.0010.4300.0000.00
Altaians (Russia)6139.342134.4323.2800.0000.0000.0000.0000.00
Tuvas (Russia)1036.8021.9454.8500.0000.0000.0000.0000.00
Khakassians (Russia)7634.212431.5800.0011.3200.0000.0000.0000.00
Mongolia1601.2500.0000.0010.6300.0010.6300.0000.00
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25 Replies to “The Indo-Iranians go west!”

  1. Its kind of ridiculous especially given Iranians also have Yamnaya ancestry indicated by Hajji Firuz sample and currently high frequencies of R1b-Z2103 in Northwest/Northern Iran.

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  2. Weird that Iranians have lower steppe ancestry in general compared to South Asians. Of course some groups would have more then others. Perhaps the elite class of rulers like Xerxes or the fire priests of Zoarasterianism historically had more steppe ancestry, equivalent to Brahmins and Kshytriyas? Or maybe it’s because of the already present non steppe groups in Iran forming the bulk of Iranian ancestry? We had the Elamites, Arabs Turks and other groups admixed with the steppe Persian, Kurdish, Pashto and Baluchi groups.
    The higher Steppe ancestry in South Asia means that the Steppe people really did displace the local male population of South Asia at a higher rate then they did in Iran.
    I’m terms of phenotype I’ve seen some Iranians that could pass for Slavs and I’ve seen Iranians who look South Indian. It’s interesting how many people in Iran and South Asia can pass for each others ethnic groups.

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    1. Quote /The higher Steppe ancestry in South Asia means that the Steppe people really did displace the local male population of South Asia at a higher rate then they did in Iran./
      Or the male population there was replaced by multiple population turnover events given the location and history of Iran. Ancient dna from northeast Iran can resolve this.

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      1. That seems like a racist Iranian and Nordicist talking point at the same time. “We were white before Arabs and Turks made us brown”

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        1. Lol, thats true!

          But In the light of facts presented, something’s got to give. Either they were wrecked as much as Indians/Pakistanis if not more (and later got diluted due to further invasions) or they weren’t that Aryan after all as claimed all along.

          Cant have it both ways..

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  3. The higher Steppe ancestry in South Asia means that the Steppe people really did displace the local male population of South Asia at a higher rate then they did in Iran.

    i think one solution to the conundrum is that after 1900 BC the Indian subcontinent went through a major demographic collapse…would require fewer indo-aryans coming through afghanistan

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    1. The demographic collapse makes sense, considering it isn’t just genes. Indo-Aryan is the most successful sub-branch of Indo-European.

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      1. “Indo-Aryan is the most successful sub-branch of Indo-European.”

        Shouldnt we normalize by available resources ? I mean the Indo-Aryans landed in a veritable gold mine of arable land and fresh water.

        Even if we take out the calamities that Europe faced (Black Death, Wars of Religion and World War), the avoidance of which by the Indo-Aryans you could attribute to their superior philosophies, European numbers would still be less than those of the Indo-Aryans.

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        1. I was commenting on the large number of descendants of Old Indo-Aryan speakers in spite of relatively less success of their culture.

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      2. “Indo-Aryan is the most successful sub-branch of Indo-European.”

        Only if you define success as demographic numerousness. In terms of resources, Indo-Aryans have fallen behind the Europeans (or more specifically, Germanic, Romance, and Slavic people) since the Age of Discovery followed by the Industrial Age.

        If you see how much land people of Euro descent have today it far outstrips that of any other ethnic-regional group. Vast farmlands in North America, Argentina, south Brazil, the rest of LatAm, southeast Australia, the whole inhabitable stretch of Russia, parts of South Africa, and of course Europe itself, can probably sustain a pop. of 5 billion + people, the only reason they haven’t increased that much in numbers is because the average woman in those regions doesn’t want more than 2-3 children.

        Apart from that, the sheer scale of primary resources they have from all this land, coupled with a secondary sector developed right from the industrial age, the most advanced tertiary service sector since the time of the Medicis, and a mature quarternary sector in terms of intellectual and cultural output, the Euros have left the other groups behind the last couple of centuries. Come to think of it, the Indo-Aryans have been slogging it out with each other over religious differences in the last 700+ years.

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        1. “Indo-Aryan is the most successful sub-branch of Indo-European.”. Very True.

          It is not just numbers game. Indo-aryan branch has seen cultural continuity going back to the source apart from absorbing numerous other influences. Iranian branch lost out cultural continuity by Islamic conquest in the 8th C. So is the case with Tokharians in 10th C. Hittites lost out to Christianity , even though Greco-Roam religions which they followed till 3rd C can be said to be continuation of old IE. Hellenic world lost out by 3rd C, other Western Indo-germanics lost out by 9th, the last to lose out were Lithuanians in the 15th C.
          Considering all that, India has been congenial ground for IE/IA.
          Not only continuity , also in large numbers making it one of the populous countries in thew world.

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        2. They could have had all that land (and MORE) and resources to themselves.Yet their greed and stupid neoconservatism/liberalism led to them engaging in things like slavery and allowing (often unrestricted) migration of people that are racially different from them and hate them. How smart are they really if they become a minority in Europe and in the New World countries they founded? Not very imo.

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    2. Makes sense. There is evidence of societal degredation for a few hundred years at the end of the mature period, before the post urban age and all of this happened just a few hundred years before the steppe invasion.

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  4. The caste system helped preserved high-steppe populations in India.

    That’s my profound comment for the day.

    Also, Iranians likely weren’t wrecked as hard as Indians, suffered less population replacement.

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    1. I can’t find the map but R1b in Northern/NW Iran reaches frequencies of 15-45%. I would wager Northern Iran has as much R1 as Northern India/Pakistan. Maybe their high frequencies come from founder effects?

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  5. Razib boycotts my questions since he rejected his Nobel nomination. No worries. However, it is not too late yet, Nobel is still up for grab. Many times, I made objections regarding terminology out of sync with timelines. For example, you cannot talk about so-called ‘Slavic’ if you talk about something before 7.c.AC. It would be similar if you say that Soviets migrated to India 4000 years ago. It is similar situation with ‘European’, too. I don’t know why Razib is avoiding to say – what is the age of R1a in Balkan, Europe, Asia. This would answer many questions which continually repeats from thread to thread.

    I am not geneticists but there are some basics. The fact is that Balkan haplogroups are older than 20000 years (pls correct me if I am wrong). European haplogroups are 6000 years old. “Well known split between “European” and “Asian” R1a1a” – is actually ‘Asian’ mutations from the older Serbian (not European) haplogroup which is 12000 years old… I am not sure which exactly is ‘Balkan migration during the Ottoman period’… I wrote before about Aryan migrations which went via Iran up to the Gulf.

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  6. Perhaps the Persians were just Iranized Elamites (or something), who voluntarily adopted Iranian culture and language without having to be conquered and subjugated?

    Do we know anything about the genetics of the Ossetians? They could be a reasonable proxy for “real” steppe Iranians.

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    1. Their y chromosome are dominated by subclades of G some of which I believe are found only among them. They’re just typical Caucasians which adopted a Iranian language.

      Also if people believe most of South Asia except the Indus Valley was mostly or purely AASI before the IVC collapse/Indo-Aryan then South Asia has seen even more turnover than Iran.

      Also does anyone know where I can find the frequencies of these minority steppe lineages among modern Indo-Iranians?

      y R1a-Z283 (and subclades)
      y R1b-Z2103
      y Q1a
      y I2a

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    2. @Numinous
      Not all Iranians (I prefer the term Iranic) considered themselves as members of the wider Iranian world, let alone the Persian world. Note that these are very modern ethno-linguistic categories. Like a Norseman wouldn’t have given a second thought to Old English being more like his language over, say, Old French. Would (and did) gut both in equal measure.

      Pashtuns, for example, see themselves as culturally and politically separate from Persians – but one can argue closer to Indo-Aryans in cultural terms because of the geographical locus. Nonetheless a historically separate non-Indic people.

      And other Iranic people became Indic in culture. Khotanese Saka were devout Buddhists. Kushans went native after Kanishka. The first inscription of Sanskrit in India was by the Saka kshatrapa dynasty of Gujarat. The family of Kashmiri Hindu kings who founded Srinagar were of Alkhon Hunnic extraction (cf Pravarasena).

      The Islamized Turks were the exception to this long-standing rule of assimilate the invader to fight the next wave in S Asia. Muslim Turks gave Indians dyspepsia and Indians eventually had to vomit.

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      1. “Turks gave Indians dyspepsia and Indians eventually had to vomit.”

        Doesn’t it depend on which “Indians” are we asking this question to. I feel large pops of Punjabi, Sindhi and Kashmiri 😛 actually don’t, but perhaps that;s just me.

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  7. Any chance you can run someone like myself on qpadm, or give some terse instructions for the setup discussed in this post? Cheers.

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